Although it’s rare for a teenage player to be ready to make a meaningful contribution to a top flight team, Fiorentina have an embarrassment of young attacking options who the club believes are on the cusp of being ready for Serie A. Whilst la Viola’s preseason has barely begun, it is believed that the club’s backroom staff have already made their decision regarding the short-term future of three of their most promising prospects, and are close to finalising their plans for a fourth.
Under-19 international Gabriele Gori and full back Luca Ranieri are both believed to be headed on loan to Serie B side Foggia. Gori spent last year with the primavera, and finished as the league’s third-highest scorer with 17 goals as well 7 assists in 27 Primavera 1 appearances. At 6’3” Gori’s towering stature belies a complete player, fast, comfortable with the ball at his feet, and capable of finishing with either foot equally well. The Florentine native is a threat anywhere in the opposition third and in truth looked somewhat above the standard of youth football last season. Gori’s should be a mainstay in a Foggia team that relied heavily on 34-year old Fabio Mazzeo for goals last season, and productive spell in Puglia next year could see him force his way into the first team by 2019.
The first player confirmed to be remaining in Tuscany next season is Dusan Vlahovic. Signed from Partizan at the same time as Nikola Milenkovic, Vlahovic remained in Serbia for the 2017-18 season due to restrictions on the transfer of players aged under-18. Vlahovic broke into the Partizan team at the age of 16, and had made 21 appearances for the Serbian club before his transfer to Fiorentina was arranged, though he did not feature at all last season. With Gori on loan it seems likely Vlahovic will spend the year spearheading the Primavera’s attack, though given how highly the club seems to value him it’s not unlikely that he’ll make a handful of appearances for the first team this season. If he does, he’ll likely be the first player born this century to represent la Viola.
Joining Vlahovic as back up to Simeone will be 19-year old Czech striker Martin Graiciar. Graiciar spent last year on loan with Slovan Liberec, making 18 appearances for the Czech side, though he only played a full 90 minutes on four occasions. Whilst the numbers aren’t particularly impressive, there’s a lot more to football than statistics, and Pioli clearly sees something in the young striker. Like Vlahovic, Graiciar will probably feature more heavily for the primavera than the first team, but could certainly feature off the bench as and when he’s needed.
The future remains uncertain though for 19-year old Riccardo Sottil, who has until the team leaves Moena to convince the backroom staff he’s ready for first team football. Like Gori, Sottil is coming off an impressive year with the youth team, finding the net 13 times and providing 8 assists in 27 league starts. Primarily a left winger, Sottil is also capable of playing on the right, and on occasion featured as a second striker. That versatility will certainly play into Sottil’s favour, as the club is in need of a greater number of options out wide. Though he’s likely not ready to stake a claim for the starting left wing berth, the prospect of Europa League football means a few solid performances in the next fortnight should be enough to keep him in Florence.